Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) is a type of bacteria that can lead to serious infections in young children. Usually, children who are younger than five years old are affected by these diseases, but fortunately, a vaccine is available that can help to protect your child. Here are three things parents need to know about the Hib vaccine.

What diseases can be caused by Hib?

Hib is associated with a number of serious infectious diseases. The most common of these is pneumonia, a serious infection of the lungs. Bacteremia is another common disease caused by Hib. Bacteremia occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream which can lead to sepsis.

Other serious infections can also be caused by Hib. Epiglottis, which is an inflammation of the windpipe, can be caused by Hib, as can cellulitis, a serious type of skin infection. It can also lead to meningitis, an infection of the meninges. The meninges cover the brain and the spinal cord, so this swelling can be life-threatening.

How is the Hib vaccine given?

The Hib vaccine requires two doses which are given in injection form. Doctors recommend giving children their first dose at two months of age and the second dose at four months of age. They'll need to get a booster dose when they are between 12 and 15 months old to make sure that they stay protected. They may receive other childhood vaccines at the same time as their Hib vaccine; their pediatrician will let you know which vaccine should be given at this time.

If you wait to have your child vaccinated until they're a bit older, they won't need as many doses of the Hib vaccine, though they will not be protected until they receive their vaccine. For this reason, it's best to get the vaccine done on schedule unless your child's doctor has told you to wait for medical reasons.

How effective is the Hib vaccine?

The Hib vaccine is very effective. It has been estimated to be between 95% and 100% effective. When the vaccine fails, it may be caused by immunodeficiency conditions. However, these children are protected by herd immunity, so if your child's vaccine fails, they will still be protected as long as they are around vaccinated children.

Haemophilus influenzae type B is a serious threat for babies and young children, but you can protect your baby by having them vaccinated on schedule. If your baby hasn't received their Hib vaccine yet, make an appointment with their pediatrician.